Growing Up Isn't Easy To Do

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Gabriella is a teenage girl with a big rebellious streak and a big secret to keep.

Submitted: March 14, 2007

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Submitted: March 14, 2007

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Gabriella looked around her at the crowd gathered in front of the stage.  A haze of cigarette and pot smoke was already wafting lazily up towards the ceiling.  She catalogued the men in her mind;  skinhead, wanna-be hippie, punk, goth, regular guy, muscle guy, really young guy who thinks leather and spikes make him look tough, old but truly rough looking guy.  All the usuals.

Who would it be? She wondered.  Skinhead guy was kind of cute but they almost always gave her the creeps once she initiated a conversation.  The arena was still only half full anyway and it was going to be packed soon enough.  Plenty to choose from.

She caught muscle guy looking at her and winked at him. That got his attention big time.  He wasn't bad looking if you liked overdeveloped biceps and no neck which Gabriella didn't, particularly, but still....she had to be fair.  It's the personality that counts, right? She thought to herself.

This was an energetic crowd. There was electricity running through them and she could feel it. It created a tingling sensation along her spine and in her hands. She knew it was going to be a kick-ass night. Death's Six always kicked ass as far as she was concerned. Gabriella thought she had to be their biggest fan, with the exclusion of freaky stalker types and people with no life of their own.

She fished a battered Camel from the front pocket of her jeans and turned her head, attempting to find room to light it without also igniting any part of her fellow concert goers.  The cigarettes and lighter created an oddly shaped lump over her hip which she felt reduced the effect of her skin-tight jeans a bit but it was worth it.  There was no way she was going to go cold turkey the entire evening. The girl in front of her whose long curly hair had narrowly avoided becoming tinder turned and scowled at her. Gabriella smiled icily and blew smoke in her face. She was thinking, go ahead bitch try me, but the girl turned away and moved off into the crowd. They always did.

The speakers let out an ear-piercing whine as Gabriella crushed the butt of her cigarette under one spike-heeled boot.

"I always hate that."  A tall guy in a baseball cap said to her.

She looked him over. Young, maybe nineteen or twenty, short blonde hair, and blue eyes. Good looking.

"Yeah, me too." She said

Then he smiled and she knew instantly he wasn't the one. It was always something about the smile that gave them away. Supposedly you could tell a lot about a person by looking into their eyes but Gabriella had never found that to be true, for her it was all in the way they smiled.

She moved away, losing him in a sea of sweaty bodies. He was nice but not what she was looking for and keeping him around would only impede her.

It was really getting difficult to maneuver. Bodies pressed against her on every side. Soon the opening band would come out on stage. She couldn't remember what the name was but it didn't matter. She hadn't come to see the first bands. The smell was beginning to build too. A pungent combination of perfume type scents, sweat, and b.o., interlaced with cigarette and pot smoke.

Gabriella inhaled deeply, savoring the aroma. She smiled. It was just right. Everything about this night was perfect, including herself. She'd decided black would be her color for the evening and chose jeans, a long sleeved mesh top with her lace camisole underneath, and spike-heeled suede boots.

The lights suddenly went down and the crowd roared with anticipation. Gabriella's attention turned towards the stage. The show was about to begin. The first band turned out to be surprisingly good and she lost herself in the music, enjoying the intensity of it. What they lacked in style was made up for by the sheer energy and raw emotion of their performance. For the time being her search was put on hold and she became a spectator just like everyone else.

Later on towards the end of the concert her attention was drawn towards an older somewhat nondescript guy in the mosh pit to her left. He didn't look like much but there was something about him....she decided to pursue her instincts and keep an eye on him. The majority of her most prized conquests had been located in that fashion in the past.

When everyone began pushing towards the exits she was careful to place herself behind him. His hair was dark brown and longish but it looked more as if it was in between trips to the barber than any real attempt to grow it out. His attire was pretty much standard, black t-shirt and blue jeans, and he was skinny with plain but not unattractive features. The only thing which stood out at all about him was his age. Late twenties, she thought, possibly thirty at the most. That in itself wasn't much, there were plenty of guys his age and some older around, but there were many more teenagers and younger people.

As everyone filtered through the doors and out onto the street many people paused, alone and in small groups, to orient themselves or maybe wait for friends still inside. Gabriella's target was one of them. She stopped at an unobtrusive distance and looked around as if she were deciding which way to go. Once his attention was focused on her, as she knew it would be, she pulled out a cigarette and went through the motions of searching for a lighter. It wasn't long before he offered her a light. She noticed his eyes were a striking color, so light brown they were nearly amber.

"Thanks" she said, accepting the light. Then she put what she hoped was the appropriate combination of anxiety and hope in her expression and scanned the street again.

"You waiting for someone?" he asked.

"No." Gabriella paused and gave him a tentative smile. "I'm just not sure where I parked."

"I can help you find your car, if you want. What's it look like?"  He asked.

Hmm....he was eager to help the maiden in distress, she thought. Nothing new about that.  Fortunate that he didn't waste much time volunteering though. She didn't want to stand around talking to him any longer than necessary.  It could create problems later on.

"It's a white Datsun. "she told him. "Four doors, kind of beat up, I think it's down this way." Gabriella led him across the street towards the lot where she'd parked.

"Bye the way, I'm Mike." he introduced himself as they walked.

"Gabriella." She replied.

"I guess you don't live around here?" he asked.

When she didn't immediately respond he hurried on as if afraid he'd offended her with his assumption.

"I mean, I just thought you didn't know the area, but anybody can forget where they parked right?"

She smiled to assure him that they were still friends. "Yeah, anybody can, but you're right. I'm from Seaton."

"Whoa, Seaton's way out towards the coast." She thought he sounded slightly disappointed. Good.

They were approaching the lot now but Gabriella wanted a few more minutes so she steered them towards the wrong end. There were quite a few people around but a cold rain was beginning to fall so most of them were occupied with finding their own vehicles. One of the advantages of hunting in the winter. If this had been August rather than November throngs of young people from the concert would be gathered around various vehicles just hanging out. As it was she thought the chances were good that the two of them would go completely unnoticed.

"It's about a three hour drive. Usually I have some friends with me and it goes by a lot quicker," she hesitated a moment before continuing "but it gets boring when you're by yourself."

"Why aren't your friends with you this time?" he asked.

Damn! He wasn't taking the bait right away, he wanted to find out more about her first. Lucky for her this wasn't the first time she'd had to make a quick improvisation or two.

"Just bad timing, everyone is either working right now or has to be there soon. No one besides me wanted to blow off work for the concert." She decided to add one more detail about herself just for the fun of it. "I work the graveyard shift so I'm awake all night anyway and I figured what are they gonna do? Fire me? It's not easy to replace somebody who's even half reliable on graveyard."

"That's cool." He was smiling. "I've worked that shift before; it's not so bad until you start to feel like some kind of vampire or something."

She laughed. "That's true."

The rain was picking up, changing from a drizzle to an actual downpour. She hoped it wasn't too soon but she wanted to end the hunt for her car before they were both drenched. He was already shivering from the cold although she could tell he was trying to hide it.

"Oh! I think that's it over there!" Gabriella cried in mock excitement as she pointed to her car which was only a few spaces down and to their left.

As they both hurried towards her car she caught a glimpse of a pale face leering at her from the corner of the lot, then as quick as it appeared it was gone. Someone was watching them from the shadows next to the alley. She could barely discern a form crouched in the darkness. Waiting. Uh oh, she thought, this could be trouble. She couldn't see the figure well enough to know who it was but she recognized the shape and the hunting style. Well, she thought, if I didn't have a good enough excuse to hurry this along already I certainly do now.

"You know, I have to drive straight back this way tomorrow. My sister's coming home for Thanksgiving and I'm picking her up at the airport. If you don't have anything you need to do....you could come along and keep me company." She didn't like rushing things this way, it always seemed awkward, but she could see the figure in the shadows creeping closer. Maybe he was just watching for the fun of it, but if he had more than observation in mind she wanted no part of it.

"You mean stay with you? You have your own place?" he seemed a little doubtful.

"No but my parents are out of town for the weekend. They won't be back until Monday night." She told him. Why was he getting difficult now? She thought to herself, and the answer came as fast as the question. Because you're hurrying him, he's not quite ready. Well....regardless of that she decided if he continued stalling he'd soon find himself alone here with some very unwelcome company on the way. After a minute of awkward silence she decided to call it quits.

"Well, maybe I'll see you around sometime then." She said as she opened the drivers side door and slid behind the wheel. She smiled up at him one last time before pulling her door closed and turning on the ignition. The rain was beginning to soak his t-shirt and it clung to his narrow frame in a way that was almost endearing. Almost.

She turned the headlights on and began backing the car out, which was no small chore since it had been wedged in tightly on either side during her absence. He wasn't making it any easier by standing next to her door with a slightly perplexed look on his face either.

Suddenly he cried  "Wait! I'm coming!" and dashed around the car. Gabriella reached over and pulled the lock up on the passenger door for him.

"Changed your mind?" She inquired while glancing in the rearview mirror as they left the parking lot. A figure clad in black was gliding away towards the alley. It moved with spiderlike grace and speed, it's long limbs hardly seeming to skim the ground. Gabriella let out a barely audible sigh of relief. That had been cutting it a little too close even for her tastes.

"I wouldn't want you to have to drive all that way by yourself." He said. "Besides, I don't have to be back to work till Monday."

They rode in as close as you could get to companionable silence on such short acquaintance for a while. Listening to Gabriellas considerable collection of metal c.d.'s. In about half an hour they'd left the lights and noise of the city behind.

She noticed Mike was looking over at her from time to time but couldn't interpret his expression. Something was causing him to become nervous or embarrassed but she couldn't figure out what it could be. If he'd seen the figure in the parking lot he should have been much more distraught so it couldn't be that. She was sure he hadn't noticed it anyway. She decided the best approach was to just ask him, then she would fix it. Whatever It was.

"Is something wrong?" She asked when he glanced at her for about the tenth time.

"No it's just...." He paused seeming unsure how to continue. "Well I was wondering...." 

"Aren't you cold?" He blurted.

Gabriella felt like kicking herself. She should be freezing! No wonder he was uncomfortable and embarrassed. Both of them were sitting in wet t-shirts in a car that was probably about 40 degrees and she must appear just as comfortable as if it were a summer day. After all....she was. She turned the heat on and thought fast.

"I spent a year in Norway when I was younger." She said laughing. This was true, the best kind of lie. "It's about 40 degrees in the middle of summer there and you kind of get used to it." Maybe that was also true and maybe not but it sounded good. She thought.

"Norway? Wow, I've never been out of the country. Do you have relatives there or something?" Her impromptu excuse had worked. Now he was more interested in finding out about her childhood than pondering over her uncanny resistance to the cold.

People were usually like that, she thought to herself. You're explanation could be riddled with obvious inconsistencies but they would still jump at it if the alternative was strange enough to make them uncomfortable. She told him about her family's trip to Norway as she navigated the increasingly narrow and winding roads towards Seaton. She enjoyed driving at night, especially through the rain. There was something about being ensconced within the warm dry cocoon of the cars interior while watching the rain pour down all around her that appealed to her.

Darkened houses and streetlights slowly gave way to forest broken only by an occasional porch light glimpsed through the trees. Twice she slowed for sets of glowing red eyes which materialized into deer as the car approached. Their conversation had become relaxed, each offering up information in turn and getting to know one another. It wasn't necessary for her to invent anything more than she already had. Only to remember her original story.

She found out that Mike had lived in Oregon all his life, except one year spent in Idaho with his aunt and uncle while his mom was in jail. His father was an alcoholic and he had only vague memories of a time when they all three lived together. Now his dad resided in eastern Washington with a wife and three kids whom Mike had never met and had no intention of ever meeting. He found it fascinating that Gabriella had been not only to Norway but also Spain and Germany. He wanted to travel someday if he ever had the money. They found that they shared many of the same tastes in movies and they both listened to rock bands from the seventies in addition to metal.

"What's your favorite horror movie?" Gabriella asked.

"Hmm.....Hellraiser I think. What's yours?"

"I like Night Of The Living Dead but have you ever wondered why zombies are scary? I mean if you really think about it how tough could it be to outrun a bunch of rotten corpses, most of them wouldn't even be in good enough shape to dig themselves out of the ground. They should just be funny you'd think but they're not." Gabriella was half joking. A walking corpse (especially one that was intent on eating you) would be scary but she'd always wondered if it would be as bad as in the movies.

"Yeah but what about the fresh ones?" He grinned at her.

She laughed then shook her head. "No I'm serious...well sort of. How many bodies that are fresh enough to move around at any speed could there really be at one time? I mean lots of people get cremated and any live people who get attacked would be eaten up right? All that leaves are the ones in the morgue, the undiscovered ones who've just died, and a few that are maybe strong enough to actually bust open their coffins and dig themselves out." 

"I don't know." He said, laughing. "Hey but you're thinking in terms of the U.S. Zombies could take over in a third world country!"

"Yeah. Maybe so." She smiled. "Not many people want to have the What If Zombies Were Real conversation with me, it's too weird."

"Too weird is more interesting than too normal." He said.

"How can you be too normal?" She was enjoying their silly conversation a little too much, she realized as they both burst out laughing. It was a good thing they were nearing their destination because she was beginning to genuinely like him and that wasn't part of her plan. It had been a mistake to steer the conversation in this direction, they had too much in common. She should have stuck to safe topics like her European vacations (he'd been interested enough) and discussing their jobs and family. She decided to change the subject.

"So, is your house right on the water?" He asked, sparing her the need to come up with anything. The ocean had become visible through breaks in the trees and made an appearance more and more often the further south they drove. The water glistened black in what moonlight managed to penetrate the heavy cloud cover. It looked like a great roiling expanse of oil.

"Yeah....almost anyway. We don't have an ocean view because our house is set back in the woods a bit but there's a trail that goes down to the beach and it only takes a few minutes to walk. It actually takes longer to drive...." She took her right hand off the steering wheel and motioned towards the road. "No turnouts for about three miles in either direction."

"Cool." Mike said. Then after a moment he added. "It'd suck to run out of gas out here, or break down, though."

She laughed. "Yeah, this time of year definitely!  In the summer it's like a different place.  You probably wouldn't wait more than fifteen minutes before a tourist in one of those monster r.v.'s offered to help you out. Of course it would probably just be because your old beater was in their way but help is help, right?"

They shared a laugh. "Well we're just about home." Gabriella said as she made a left turn onto a narrow tree-lined side road. Overhanging branches combined with the cars headlights to create the illusion of a long dark tunnel stretching out before them. Bits of moss and bark pelted the car along with the rain as they bounced through potholes and ruts. Soon a large two-story house came into view and Gabriella pulled up in front of the garage.  "Well, here we are." She said. "Hold on, I've got to open this from outside, the remote's broken."

She jumped out and hit the button and the garage door trundled obediently up. Peering inside she saw that the side her parents car would normally occupy was still empty. Good, she thought, breathing a sigh of relief.  If they weren't home by now it meant they hadn't decided to come back early and surprise her. She smiled to herself as she pulled the car inside. Her parents believed that if they came home a day or two early once in a while, to catch her off guard, that she wouldn't dare do anything she wasn't supposed to.  It would probably work too, she mused, if their "unscheduled" arrivals didn't always occur sometime between eight in the morning and ten at night. As it was she just had to keep everything on schedule and tidied up before morning.

The interior of the garage was black as pitch when she turned the cars headlights off.

Her heart began to race as she heard Mike open the passenger door.  This was it.  The charade was about to come to an end and he would see her for what she really was.  The thought was both exhilarating and frightening.  The finality of it terrified her, there could be not turning back if she had a change of heart.  Yet she was filled with pride at the thought that she would be making a difference.


They were fools! Her parents...the rest of the clan... If mortal life was so precious, something to be revered and protected, they should be using their powers to protect  them.  Even if it was from their own kind. She was on a heroic mission, doing a great service to humankind and yet if she were caught they would name her a monster. If she were caught by her own kind, almost worse, she would be labeled mad and put to death. There was a type of insanity which her people could become afflicted with. It caused the ill person to become consumed with an uncontrollable bloodlust. The disease was very rare but those who had it were considered to be such a threat to the clans way of life that they were dealt with swiftly and without pity.


But I don't have it! She thought. This is my choice, I'm not compelled to do it, not driven by bloodlust....

"Hey, I can't see anything in here, can you get the lights so I don't walk into a wall or something?" Mike interrupted her train of thought. He chuckled but his laughter had an edge of nervousness to it.

Gabriella glided soundlessly around the front of the car, stopping at arms length in front of him in the dark.

"There's something I want to ask you." She said.

He startled and took an involuntary step backward, nearly tripping over some cardboard boxes. "I didn't know you were right here." He said after he'd regained his balance. " I thought you were still on the other side of the car."

"Why do you do it?" She asked as she closed the gap between them. This time she halted mere inches from him.

"What?  Why do I do what?" He was confused but not frightened....not yet.

"Start the fires." She said softly, leaning in close enough for her lips to barely brush his neck.

This time he didn't just startle, he actually leapt away from her. " How do you know....I never....who are you?"  He was making his way swiftly towards the opening of the garage and the pounding rain beyond.

"I see it. It's in your thoughts, always, behind everything else but constantly there. I can't see everything but I see that, it's impossible not to." She wanted him to run out into the night. She wanted him to run far enough and quickly enough that all traces of his scent woud be washed away by the rain long before her parents returned.

"I don't understand, are you a cop or something?" He called to her from a few feet outside the door. "I didn't do anything!" His voice was filled with equal measures of defiance and trepidation.

Hmm, she thought, he knows enough to be afraid but not enough to run....I can change that.  Gabriella removed her specially made contact lenses and looked up at the faintly glowing shape of a full moon hidden behind the clouds. "I'm not a cop." She called, laughing, "but you'll wish I was-" her voice broke, becoming deep and guttural as her neck elongated "-when you see what I am."  She held back a howl as her body stretched and reshaped itself. It hurt!

What emerged from the black maw of the garage bore no resemblance to the slight blonde girl who'd entered a few minutes before.  It lifted its snout and inhaled deeply, marking his scent, before leveling its gaze in Mike's direction. The thing was a nightmare. It was lean sinew and coarse black pelt, talons and shark-like teeth. Worst of all were the eyes, luminescent yellow like a cat's but glowing with an intelligence far greater than any cat.

Mike froze for a few precious seconds, his face frozen in a rictus of horror. Then instinct took over and he ran. His flight was taking him down the long driveway towards the main road that they'd turned off earlier. He threw a panicky glance over his shoulder every few seconds only to find the beast at his back, rows of razor teeth mere inches from his neck, every time. It knew he had to follow the road in order to see, and it was playing with him. Letting him run himself to exhaustion.

He was panting, already beginning to slow involuntarily, when they came to the main road. The beast paused in it's pursuit, waiting to see which direction he would choose.  Mike crossed the pavement and vaulted over the guardrail, half running and half tumbling down the embankment to the beach. For the first time the thing wasn't there when he looked behind him and he attempted to put all the speed he could into his flight. He had a vague idea that if he could reach the water then at least they would both be out of their element. The thing didn't look like it could swim any better than a man. He fervently hoped it couldn't.

The soft sand felt like glue under his feet, clinging to him and forcing him to slow. Striving towards the black surf and the hard packed ground ahead he could hear the thing descending the embankment behind him. As bad as it was to listen to it drawing steadily closer while he fought to maintain his speed in the sand, it was worse when the rustling and sliding noises ceased. Now it was on the beach with him, he knew, and it would close the gap between them.
Just then he felt the soft sand begin to firm beneath him and the water drew rapidly closer as his footing improved. Large waves were breaking, pounding the shore. His plan to swim was crazy, he knew, but he'd come too far to turn back. There was nowhere else to go, regardless. Back to the highway? He didn't remember exactly when they'd seen the last car pass but he knew it had been too long. Better to risk his life in the water where he at least might have a chance.


Spray hit his face as he plunged into the surf. It felt like ice. He was waist deep and his legs were already beginning to go numb when the thing hit him from behind. The impact knocked him farther out into the water and they were both rolled under. Mike fought to free himself as the beast clung to him under the water, but it's grip was like iron. He kicked and beat at it, his lungs burning, knowing it needed air as much as he did. Still it kept it's grip on him and when they were tossed back up, gasping and coughing, it held him in what could have been a lovers embrace. Looking into its eyes he thought they're still the same, still her eyes. Then the beast opened it's jaws and everything went black. I don't understand he tried to say as the darkness overtook him, but nothing came out.

 

Fog covered the beach in the first hours of dawn, rolling over the water, covering everything in a thick white blanket. It dampened the sounds, turning the crash of the waves into a distant roar and the harsh cries of gulls to muted squeaks. Gabriella walked slowly towards the beach, letting the icy waves pound against her nude body. She felt numb, both physically and emotionally. This hadn't gone the way it was supposed to. It had gone wrong.....so wrong.
She'd thought everything was fine up until the end. Then when it was too late, as he lay bleeding in her arms, she received the last images his mind would ever create. Images of fire, of people screaming, burning, and dying, their faces charred and inhuman. She smelled an acrid overpowering odor that she couldn't quite identify, it reminded her of the scent of wax or oil but stronger. Much stronger. She saw Mike standing in a stark white room, striking a match then watching as streams of fire raced out, engulfing the room. He didn't want to leave and she felt his compulsion to stay, to stay and watch the flames, but at the last minute he tore himself away. She felt guilt and pleasure at the same time...
Then something strange happened. Suddenly she was receiving two visions of the same scene but from different perspectives. This was where everything went wrong. In one vision, Mike was standing in the doorway, looking over his shoulder into the inferno he'd created. In the other, he was standing back from the house looking at himself with a strange mixture of sorrow and apprehension.
She heard/felt his thoughts; I'm sorry Jeremy, I didn't want it to be true. I didn't want to find out but I had to, I couldn't let you keep on doing it. I couldn't. I'm so sorry. Both images blinked out as Mike died.
Gabriella was left with his pain and his overwhelming sorrow as she knelt with his body in her arms while the numbing waves crashed over her. She felt herself changing back to human form and began to cry. The tears felt hot enough to scald her cheeks. You never said you had a twin!  She didn't know if she was crying for him or for herself only that things had somehow gotten very wrong and there was no way to fix them. It wasn't supposed to be this complicated.

Eventually she swam far out into the ocean with his corpse and let it go adrift. It wasn't difficult for her, she was a good swimmer, and the cold had no effect on her other than numbing her body. She knew his body would wash up onto shore sooner or later but there was nothing to connect her to it.

As she walked up the beach trail towards her home she wondered if this meant she was sick after all. Was she an abomination? Her goal had seemed so noble in the beginning but now

...If she confessed what would happen to her? Death is what will happen to you a voice in the back of her mind spoke up. She thought the voice was right but she was no longer sure she could trust it. She wasn't sure of anything.


© Copyright 2018 Gremlin. All rights reserved.

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